I'm a Melbourne-based producer/mixer who loves working with emerging acts. I've worked with a number of artists from zero to hero; as such, I've now got a proven track record of turning promising songs and artists into excitingly viable products. The sound of mine that I'm most approached about is 'real musicians with a streak of electronica'.
While I've worked with some of Australia's big acts I now like to focus on artists who are just stepping out - far more interesting and fun than the established acts! (I've particularly specialized in working with solo female singer/writers.)
Songs and artists come to me that need to go to the next level, sent by labels, managers and direct approaches.
We can traverse the whole continuum from what you'd like from me as a producer/mixer/musician, from 'here's half a chorus that's great, now fill in the blanks', all the way to a point-by-point blueprint for me to follow to the letter, and everything in between.
We talk about the brief; I go to work and send you draft 1 within 2 days; you send me back a bullet point list of changes; I send back the new draft; and we keep going till the track is perfect.
As a multi-instrumentalist, I work in a 'play to order' way, with an exceptionally wide range of skills to bring to bear honed over decades, from full string arrangements to every instrument in an indie-pop band to 8 piece vocal harmonies to the world's worst upright piano sound.
I have a degree in classical composing, a publishing deal with Sony/ATV, and I've done work for Sony, Universal, EMI, Mushroom and other smaller labels.
I can work easily from all over the world via Skype etc.
Listen to the sounds, and I'd love to chat.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
29 Reviews - 1 Repeat ClientEndorse Benjamin McCarthy
Working with Ben was a really great experience! The quality of production was awesome and we worked until I was happy with the finished piece. The time in which the song's were finished was also really efficient. Thanks for the great work :) !
Mr. Ben is a diamond in the turd tornado that is the music industry. I can’t say enough good things about the bastard. He could get away with being a jerk just due to the big names he’s worked with and the accolades he has, but he isn’t. He is patient, approachable, professional, and refreshing enthusiastic about the artists he works with. I’m so lucky I got to work with him and can’t wait to do it again.
Ben is a class act - a true pro, and amazing producer to work with. Highly recommend!
Amazed and so so grateful, thank you, Benji Mac. What a pleasure to work with you and have you guide me through processes that are so alien to me. 7 songs down and only possible because YOU showed me that dreams can come true. Thank you for taking me on, and sharing your talents and musical giftings so I could add more to Bootscoot'n Betty & Friends of the Australian Outback.
I have recommended Ben to dozens of artists, and managers, over many years. He has a brilliant musician's mind and an ability to get the very best performances out of emerging artists in the recording studio in a supportive way that still demands excellence. LdS
Working with Ben McCarthy was a great experience for me as a emerging musician. He really helped me to discover a lot about my style and had creative ideas that pushed me in all the right directions when recording with him. He was able to put me in touch with some great people while working with him. I wouldn't hesitate to work with Ben again.
Ben is an absolute gem to work with. I found him through Sound Better and I could not have picked a better music wizard for my music debut. Absolutely in love with the 3 tracks Ben created with me and I highly recommend him to anyone, at any stage of their career.
Benjamin was such a pleasure to work with! Not only is he an extremely gifted musician, but he is also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet! He constantly went above and beyond for me, and I will be forever grateful for the time we had working together.
I found Benjamin on Soundbetter and it was one of the best connections I have made. We produced an absolute killer track together. Truly exceptional work and quality. A hit. Benjamin was able to hear what I heard in my head and turn a strong idea into a strong vibe. Don't hesitate to work with the professor!
Benjamin McCarthy is an absolute joy to work with!
He guided me through the production of my first solo E.P.; from lyrical/instrumental development, recording and finally mixing. He has a great instinct for when to encourage, critique and when to push for a better performance. Ben is a hard worker, killer multi-instrumentalist and the most genuine music nerd in the Melbourne music scene. He continues to be someone whom I call upon for advice and recommend willingly.
You will love collaborating with Ben.
Ben is my favourite dork in the whole Melbourne music scene. He was extremely generous with his time when I first worked with him in 2012, making an EP with a former indie band of mine. It was our first experience in a proper recording studio, and Ben was so great across 10 exciting days recording and mixing our tunes. He has remained interested in my projects ever since, and we made music together again in 2016. Our output surpassed my expectations. He is one hell of a bass player, and even better at the tambourine. Aw yeah. You won't be disappointed if you choose Ben to ride your faders :)
Working with Ben was a breeze. He is collaborative and has so many great ideas to add to the work. He's also very responsive and works at light speed! Was a great experience working with him.
He has an energy that is contagious and so many great ideas - a joy to collaborate with.
Fucking LEGEND!!! Made me feel so comfortable and excited about my work. Can’t recommend him enough!
Ben Mac puts actual love and hard labour in to the work he does because he truly cares for the artist. Not only does he do amazing things with the actual music, he also listens to you and gets to know you. He’s awesome at giving emerging artists confidence and trying all sorts of new things we ask for. He does his research to help you to find that sound you can’t quite explain and he is loads of fun! Very talented multi instrumentalist as well producer, mixer, writer, highly recommend the guy!
Ben has a very warm, thoughtful and holistic approach, and is an absolute joy to work with in the studio. He made me feel comfortable and supported throughout the recording process, and I felt he knew how to get the best out of me.
I really appreciate Ben for his work on my EP. He had ideas I would have never thought of, was easy to get along with and above all was genuinely excited about what we were creating!
Macca is one of the finest people you’ll meet in the music industry. His productions skills and musicianship are nothing short of world class, plus he’s pleasure to be around in and out of the studio.
Macca is one of the finest people you’ll meet in the music industry. His productions skills and musicianship are nothing short of works class, plus he’s pleasure to be around in and out of the studio.
Ben is the best. Such an incredible musical talent and an absolute pleasure to work with. A gentleman in the studio and a master of his craft. Super fun and made everything seem easy while upholding an amazing work ethic and producing great results. Couldn’t recommend him more.
Interview with Benjamin McCarthy
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Never fall into the trap of clinging to cliches that you mistake for 'how it's done' in the industry - be open to ALL ideas, not obsessed with the idea in your head because 'real artists stick to a vision without wavering.' Don't be afraid to feel uncomfortable with new ideas...
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on a single for the runner-up of The Voice Australia, co-writing from scratch.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital for most things, analog for others. After about 20 years of digital, there's been a huge improvement in gear quality and how to use it well. Still can't beat tape for low end though.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That it'll be the best you've ever sounded. Period.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I never fail to be amazed at how unique every single musician is; just when you think you've picked up every type there is, another human being comes along with their own colour to add to the tapestry.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: 'Yikes, I don't know exactly what I want, just something good!' - 'Well that's exactly what you're giving me money to sort out for you.'
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: People often have had a bad experience working with less than professional standard producers in the past - I'll give you your music very quickly, and without a shred of financial issues. Hey, it's in my interest for you to become a star, I WANT you to succeed.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: 'What else do you have written? Let's hear it!'
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A U87, a Chandler pre, an Apogee converter, a Distressor and the full UAD plugin package! Does that count as 5?
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been in studios since I was 5! My dad was a musician, and I've spent my whole adult life touring round the world with artists or producing. I started out as a teen with the classic 4-track cassette bedroom setup, and after a composing degree worked my way up through the usual bands/assisting route. I've learned all studio techniques on the job.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm always seen in Australia as being able to handle genuine, playing musicians and give it an edge. An interesting combo of the organic and the electronic.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Never underestimate the power of mono in a mix!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Indie pop, rough garage folk-pop, evocative laptop reverb. Very vocal oriented.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Easily, it's my ability to see the POTENTIAL in anything - just need to reframe x, just need to cut section y, simply repeat part z. I'm very focussed also on small changes having big impacts; if it's ready to explode, all it needs is a few basic changes most of the time.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: An expert outsider's opinion, backed up with decades of experience and training. I've never heard your song, I have fresh ears and I'm able to manage its impact to the millimeter (or inch!)
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to work quickly! Never forget that the ordinary consumer has an instant impression - most of the time the picture of what needs to be done for the track forms on the first listen of the ruff. If it's producing, I'll either ask for everything the client has ever written to choose a song to work on (too many times I've uncovered old or forgotten songs that are just brilliant) or begin to pick apart the song writing with a microscope - nothing will sound good if the writing isn't top class. I'll then have a long chat with about what references the client has in mind, from very specific to having no idea, and normally put down some ruff vox/guitar/keys to build around. Within 2 days I'll have a first draft done of a full arrangement/mix for the client to approve or adjust as they wish; I play all the instruments and programme as necessary using a wide range of tools. We go back and forth until we've hit perfection.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm running a mixing/tracking room treated mathematically with a ton of special hi-tech Sydney-made baffles, a classic NS-10/Auratone monitoring path. I have everything easily to hand from classic synths to modern controllers, load boxes for running amps flat out without blowing ears, reel-to-reel and 4-track cassettes in the patch bay. My 1973 Neumann U87 or my Shure SM7 work perfectly for all types of vocals. Outboard units like the Dolby SR encoder and just about every plugin made round out my ability to track anything from pristine vocals to real drums to all electronic needs.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Prince, Beatles, solo McCartney, Peter Gabriel, many of the big solo female acts eg Lykke Li, St. Vincent, Julia Michaels, Florence. Asgeir is amazing.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: 'Folktronica' is the most common request - off-beat and edgy genuine playing with electronic elements.